Dave East has burst onto the scene this year, got signed to Nas, and even grabbed a spot on XXLs freshmen list. He hails from east Harlem and is a throwback to the days of hip-hop lyricists. Flying in the face of all the mumble rappers popping up today and all the old heads complaining. He drops off his debut, Kairi Chanel, to show that lyricism isn’t dead.
The production on Kairi Chanel is about as traditional New York hip-hop as I’ve heard in some years. It’s clear that he grew up on that 90’s/early 2000’s sound when New York was still atop the game because you’ll find no down south trap here. That’s not to say that the production sounds outdated, but it definitely has that familiar boom-bap in it’s DNA. “S.D.E” and “Don Pablo” are some of the best beats on the tape and are the audio approximations of Harlem.
“Everybody keep telling me “make a club record”
You ain’t trapping no more, stop making drug records
You got a daughter bout to come, stop making thug records
I brought that money back fast, I had the plug flexing
Welcome to Harlem, el Barrio, that’s the drug section”
This homage to NY carries over to East’s no frills delivery and bar heavy compositions. You won’t find any autone, ad-libs, or melodies here, only bars and lyricism. It’s a unique thing to hear in this day and age of music and makes him stand out as a throwback in hip-hop. Majority of the songs are an exercise in getting bars off, but “Keisha” is a standout as he flexes his storytelling muscle. Kairi Chanel is a solo affair almost the whole way through, aside from a few great verses from Fabolous, Cam’ron, and Beanie Sigel. I don’t know how far he can go without adopting some of the newer trends but I greatly respect and appreciate his commitment to the culture and to a time when what you said mattered.
“I’m feeling like I ain’t took a nap in weeks
I’m up, couple thousand tucked, right in back the jeep
I’m stuck, diamonds in the cut make an actress speak
Sports, drugs, and entertainment, think I’m Master P”
What’d you think about Kairi Chaneli? Did you miss some of the current sounds or was it a refreshing throwback to when lyrics mattered? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave a rating for the album.